Urogenital atrophy: prevention and treatment.

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Pharmacotherapy. 2001 Apr;21(4):464-80.

Urogenital atrophy: prevention and treatment.

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Pharmacy Department, Fairview University Medical Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA.


Fifteen percent of premenopausal women, 10-40% of postmenopausal women, and 10-25% of women receiving systemic hormone therapy experience urogenital atrophy. The most common symptoms are dryness, burning, pruritus, irritation, and dyspareunia. Estrogen loss, drugs, and chemical sensitivities are causes. Estrogen or hormone replacement therapy (ERT-HRT) is the treatment of choice in postmenopausal women. Dosages prescribed for menopause symptoms or to prevent osteoporosis (and, potentially, other conditions) can restore the vagina to premenopausal physiology and relieve symptoms. Concomitant progestins are necessary for women with an intact uterus to minimize or eliminate estrogen-induced endometrial cancer. Low-dosage oral and vaginal ERT can relieve urogenital atrophy but might not produce systemic effects. Progestins are not necessary with vaginal rings and vaginal tablets. If ERT is given only to treat urogenital atrophy, estrogen creams 1 or 2 times/week may prevent recurrence after symptoms are resolved. Progestins are not required for occasional estrogen cream use. Vaginal moisturizers provide longer relief by changing the fluid content of endothelium and lowering vaginal pH. Vaginal lubricants provide short-term relief. Women with contraindications to ERT-HRT could use lubricants for intercourse-related dryness or moisturizers for more continuous relief. The lay press promotes agrimony, black cohosh, chaste tree, dong quai, witch hazel, and phytoestrogens for vaginal dryness and dyspareunia; however, no evidence exists to support these specific claims. Pharmacists should be actively involved in identifying, preventing, and treating urogenital atrophy.

About Dr Colin Holloway

Gp interested in natural hormone treatment for men and women of all ages

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